Enforced ass-sitting : when injury interrupts your passion

When sport or fitness is your stress-buster, an injury that gets in the way of your routine can feel like the sky is falling down.

It’s inevitable that if you have a regular sport or activity, you’re going to hurt something at some point. Whether it’s repetitive strain or overuse, or an actual injury, enforced time out has you kicking yourself – why did/didn’t I do that, why didn’t I listen to my body. We fill up with frustration and anger and direct it inwardly. This makes the situation worse – you already feel stressed from losing your outlet for release, and suddenly there’s all this pent up anxiety to deal with. At this point it’s easy to comfort eat and start destroying all the results you’ve spent months working towards. Cue more anger and more eating.

Which brings me to today. A few weeks ago after finally getting my handspring (VICTORY!) I started getting pain in my elbow. I tried to manage it by working around it but it continued to get worse. Now I’m in a cycle of icing, ibuprofen gel and deep heat. I felt pretty crappy. I tried to just do some gentle dance and stretching but even when I found things I could still do, I felt too unmotivated to do them.

I waited a week for a doctor’s appointment after the pain started increasing despite resting it. The nurse’s  advice? ‘Rest more’ – up to 6-8 weeks. She didn’t understand  how hard that was to hear, nor did she ask any questions about how it started hurting, where it hurt, my training  or so on. I mean, I get it, I wasn’t dying or anything, I don’t expect to be the NHS’ number 1 priority, but I was hoping for an explanation and any potential way to speed up recovery, even by a day.

I went to see a sports physio, who fit me in straight away. I showed him pictures and videos of what I’d been training, and he examined the joint and its movement from every angle. It turns out it was a ligament injury, which has now been surrounded by scar tissue leading to the soreness and stiffness that  I feel even when resting it. In fact, keeping it immobile has probably made it worse. He treated me with some acupuncture to stimulate blood flow and gave me an intense sports massage all around the joint. For the rest of the day it felt like an awful bruise, but a day later it feels more agile and lighter, less painful already. He says I can even go back to pole next week, but taking it easy. I felt optimistic and relieved!

Injuries are the price we pay for passion, and fortunately most of the time they’re only minor even when they feel like the end of the world. Stepping back and giving yourself the time you need to heal can feel like you’ve lost part of yourself. Maybe I’m being overdramatic, but especially in the pole community, being out of action for any period of time is widely understood to make you feel crappy. Maybe that’s our own fault when we lose perspective, or maybe it’s an inevitability when something becomes such a huge part of your life. I’m the first to admit that my whining about this is self indulgent, but I also know I’m not the only one who becomes overwhelmed at these little setbacks.

In 5 weeks time I’m supposed to be performing a pole routine and a silks routine at our summer showcase – at this point, both will be freestyled rather than choreographed, and I probably won’t be pulling out my best tricks. But at least it seems like I’ll actually be there, and that’s put me in a much better mood.


Being a better vegan: I’ll take the ale without the fish, please

I believe that being vegan, veggie, plant-based or environmentalist, we should all do the best we can, and not feel guilty when we’re not perfect. We all make occasional slip ups, forget to ask the question, or forget how certain products even have a chance of animal ingredients in them (pork in your mascara, anyone?)


Anyway, even when I was vegetarian, I often turned a blind eye to animal ingredients in my booze. I had my excuses: “I’m doing enough already/they’re only waste products/it’s not actually in the drink, just used in processing” etc, etc. The real reason was, that I couldn’t be arsed – I love a boozey Friday and I didn’t want anything getting in the way of that. Finally, I realised I was no different to the people who claimed it’s too hard/inconvenient/expensive to give up meat, and if I’m going to call myself a vegan it’s time to drink responsibly.

Dizzy blonde

Putting theory into practise: time to drink some beer

To celebrate a new level of discipline I headed down to Runaway brewery‘s monthly Grub Fair. Runaway are pretty awesome, they set up in 2014 to brew great beer how they wanted it, and set up in the Green Quarter in Manchester. The third Saturday of every month in association with GRUB, they get local food traders in and set up gazebos and benches in their car park for the Grub Food Fair. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere, where you can while away the afternoon in a beer and food coma. Which is how I spent my Saturday this week.

The event caters to all, and looks to make sure their mix of traders includes veggie, vegan and gluten free options, Yes there’s also a lot of meat, but at least you can bring the whole family without any complaints. This month I sampled the leek and aubergine stir fry stew from Maiden Taiwan, followed by some fresh mini vegan donut bites with cinnamon sugar from Fritto Italian Street Food.

Vegan beer at home

Unfortunately, we can’t spend all our weirdly warm but rainy days in Manchester beer gardens. So for the other days of the week, I found this excellent resource called Barnivore that collates information from most beer, wine and spirits brands on whether animal products are used. I’m a big ale lover: I love a strong German Weissbeer, a gentle session bitter, or a lovely blonde (LIKE ME!)  I’ve collated below a list some of my regular UK beers that turn out to be vegan (phew). These aren’t particularly the best (although many are delicious), they’re just easy to find, the sort you can stock up on in advance, grab from your local, or always have on hand:

Vegan lagers:

  • Corona
  • Sol
  • Stella Artois
  • Becks
  • Carlsberg Export
  • Grolsch
  • Brewdog This is Lager

Vegan ales:

  • Robinson’s Dizzy Blonde (my favourite and my namesake)
  • Brewdog Dead Pony (ironically)
  • Black Sheep Golden Sheep (BOTTLE is ok, cask is NOT OK)
  • Marble Beers (not the honey versions obv)
  • JW Lees: everything except the standard Cask Bitter
  • Obviously Runaway brewery

I have heard that as a rule of thumb, smaller microbreweries are less likely to feel the need to use random animal parts in brewing – this may or may not be true.

The above list has a strong Manchester skew as I love to support our local brewers, but the Barnivore search list is completely global.

Runaway brewery

All this has made me thirsty now: long legs, green heart, full glass…

Do share your favourite vegan beer finds or non vegan warnings if you have any!


Vegan discoveries April round up: Keeping Cool

It’s been hot at last. Our garden has erupted in bluebells and I can bust out my Toms. You leave work and it’s still light, walking places becomes a pleasure again.


I had planned to update this blog in categories, beauty update, snacks update and so on. But life doesn’t happen in categories and it’s always the how it happened rather than the what happened that makes the better story. Not that there’s much storytelling in today’s cruelty free update, but it’s been a month with things to smile about. I’ve been a bit clever and created a THEME for this post. And so, with no further ado, today’s edition has turned out to be on the loose theme of Keeping Cool.

Cruelty-free beauty: the vegan antiperspirant.

I put a lot of research and effort into looking for a cruelty free antiperspirant. As much as I’d love to run off and live in the woods and live in nature, in reality, I work in an office and no one likes a stinky pits. In addition, I have a very sweaty hobby, and so all in all a good deodorant is an essential.

The trouble with this part of the beauty industry is that everything seems owned by freaking L’Oreal, queens of animal testing. And it’s not just cruelty free that’s the issue, for example, Sure’s Aloe Vera antiperspirant has fish in it. I found this really useful blog post by the amazing The Eco Edit that helps you decode your make up bag’s ingredients list. Warning: it’s disgusting reading. But you owe yourself and your skin the right to make informed choices so please do read.

Anyway, when you Google vegan deodorant, vegan antiperspirant, you get the same handful of brands popping up, and they’re basically all US brands, hard to get hold of, or conflicting advice. It was impossible to find anything. Finally I found one, Salt of the Earth, which is stocked at Vegan Disneyland: (exciting, entertaining, overpriced…) Holland & Barrett.

Salt of the Earth spray
Salt of the Earth spray

When I found it on the shelf, I was underwhelmed. It looks like those little sprays you use to keep houseplants damp. It screamed NATURAL like all it was doing was waving homeopathic sugar piss under your arms. Nevertheless, I shelled out 5 English pounds and tried to think about all the weeping bunnies I would be saving while enduring a sweaty summer.

Let me tell you, I WAS WRONG! This stuff is incredible. It sprays on like water, admittedly taking a little while to dry, but it’s so effective. Probably better than the Mitchum 48 hour stick I used to use, and no greasy whiteness to go with it. I don’t know why the heck we cause this pain and suffering to the animals that are used as ingredients and guinea pigs, spreading crap on our bodies that’s probably giving us cancer (there’s a lot of research linking the aluminium in antiperspirant to breast cancer). This cheeky little bottle is perfect. 5 out of 5. And no I wasn’t gifted it and have never spoken to the company, but I feel like I should write them a letter of commendation. It’s no wonder they’ve won awards, this stuff’s got game.

Salt of the Earth
Platinum awards, vegan seal, leaf juice… ticking all boxes.

On the subject of Mitchum, supposedly their antiperspirants contain no animal ingredients, but they are owned by Revlon who sell in China and therefore conduct animal testing. My gut feel for this is to avoid where possible – it’s not like Mitchum shout about eco credentials, so by purchasing it it’s not like you’re showing off to Revlon that you care like in the case of Body Shop/L’Oreal. But it’s a grey area, let me know what you think?

Keeping Cool: Ice Cream edition

When I was a kid, I was never that into ice cream. I had an allergy to a certain red food colouring but a penchant for strawberry flavour things, so I developed an association between ice cream and vomming early on. When I started uni and our halls kitchen didn’t have a freezer, we had one of those amazing summers where it’s sunny permanently (2006 helloooooo). Suddenly I missed it and I craved it.

Going vegan was like being at uni again. Not being able to have it made me want it more. Luckily it appears there’s a shit tonne of milk free alternatives, and they taste ace. Ice cream must be an easy thing to crack, unlike cheese for example.

Top marks for branding goes to Tesco’s deliciously named “Choc Sticks“.

Tesco choc sticks

The box looks clinical and weird. I had expectations of those crappy choc ices that are 20 for 50p where the chocolate is thin and bland and the ice cream is crystalline, watery and tasteless. Again: WRONG. I would challenge any non vegans to try this and say it’s not real ice cream. The chocolate on the outside is thick and rich dark chocolate, with a satisfying crack as you break it up. The ice cream inside is smooth, creamy vanilla, just like a magnum. They’re currently 3 for 2 and I have officially Stocked Up. Don’t be out off by the uninspiring packaging or name.

Get in my belly choc stick

Ice cream treat number two is in even weirder packaging and it reminds me of the Doge meme (much wow, so ice cream).

Just like Ice Cream Mochi Ice Dessert

I had never heard of Mochi before, so I’ve no comparison to whether these are authentic or different to ‘normal’. Basically, the outside is a sort of chewy, doughy, marshmallowy thing, that immediately makes you panic that there must be gelatin in it. There isn’t, it’s just starch from tapioca. You’re safe. Go with it.

Mochi:  chewy ice balls

So you bite into it (it’s weirdly not that cold) and there’s a runny centre of coconut ice cream, very drippy rather than a solid scoop. I guess it’s sort of the jam donut of the vegan coconut ice cream world. Apparently they come in other flavours, mango, chocolate, strawberry and Black Sesame, naturally. I didn’t know what to expect when I opened them, but it definitely wasn’t 6 individually wrapped pieces. It seems quite wasteful in the plastic packaging, but they’re so sticky I can see why.

Six coconutty balls

Would be ace if they replaced that with paper or something more eco friendly. High novelty factor, but it doesn’t sit in a bowl with broken oreos and strawberries in quite the same way. 4/5.

That concludes April’s vegan round up: Keeping Cool!  Looking forward to a theme presenting itself for a May round up. Suggestions welcome.

Love, Kayley xx


What is tempeh and what do you do with it?

What is tempeh?

Tempeh is made from soy beans, and is an alternative to tofu. Tofu is made from bean curd rather than the whole bean, so loses some of the fibres and nutrients from the soy beans, and is considered more processed. Tempeh on the other hand uses whole beans, contains about 50% more protein and more than 3x the fibre of tofu. It is considered ‘less processed’ as the soy beans go through less faffing to get to the end product. Some people apparently have trouble digesting tofu, but tempeh is supposed to be easier on the digestive system. So there you go.

I like having a wide range of dishes to turn to so I wanted to give tempeh a go. I used to struggle with tofu, but now have several go-to tofu meals that I love. Tempeh seems to be a lot less talked about and I think I know why:


It looks like a cross between a highly sweetcorny poo and the front of a pebble dashed house. I gallantly continued.

How to cook tempeh

I read several recipes and advice and a lot of them talk about boiling it. Apart from rice and pasta I never boil anything so I couldn’t be arsed with that. I then found a few ‘marinate and fry’ recipes so I decided to freestyle on that basis. My approach in the kitchen is alwaysalways that I know what I like better than the recipe writer, and I’m a constant substitutor if I don’t have the right ingredients in the house. In this case I mixed soy sauce, lemon juice, ginger powder and garlic powder in a bowl, sliced the tempeh pretty thinly, brushed the tempeh with the marinade and left it in the fridge for an hour. In retrospect, I’d probably add some chili or hot sauce next time to this mix.

I left it for an hour then heated up some seseame seed oil in a wok. Sesame seed oil has a hotter boiling point than things like olive oil so it’s great for when you want a high temperature. Also it tastes amazing, sort of toasty, nutty.

With this high-ish heat I only needed to do the slices for a couple of minutes each side before they turned a nice toasty colour. You might be wondering about the different shapes – I experimented with different ways of chopping the tempeh to see if it affected how well it stayed together – there was little difference, I’d stick with the slice like salami approach.


At the same time, I fried a leek in some coconut oil, then chucked in a tin of chickpeas, a generous amount of spinach and some pinenuts with a spoonful of Thai green curry paste in a saucepan. (Asda’s Thai curry pastes are vegan, but most other places and brands put fish sauce in so watch out). And here’s how it looked:

IMG_20160430_185528 I served it with Thai sweet chili sauce.

The verdict:

Maybe 6/10 for tempeh and 8/10 overall. OK, so tempeh isn’t my fave. It’s quite dense, reminds me a lot of nut roast which I was never keen on specifically for that reason. Taste-wise, it tasted fine and its good to have different foods in your diet. I’d definitely make it spicier next time and try it again. To be honest, the leek and chickpea concoction was my fave part of the meal. Also a whole tempeh ‘sausage’ between two people is definitely too much! I would say that it’s good enough to give it another go but I can’t see it replacing tofu any time soon.

If you’ve got any of your own tempeh recommendations please let me know!

Love Kayley x